Statement from companies: Big data means big money

DABAI has asked the participants in the public-private partnership how much increase in value of their turnover they expect to achieve from participating in DABAI. In total, they estimate that the 45 million Dkr invested by the Innovation Fund Denmark has resulted in an increased turnover of 750 million Dkr. To this must be added the societal value which can be difficult calculate.

DABAI has primarily developed IT solutions within food, education and public data. And even more industries may get this potential for growth in the future if we continue to invest in these sorts of big data partnerships between research and private companies.

Three reasons for society to invest in big data

There are three important reasons why society should invest in big data: One is to improve the companies’ bottom lines. The second is the social-economic benefit. And the third is the opportunity for bringing research results into play.

Let's start with the companies. They can reap the benefits of using big data as they get access to the state-of-the-art technologies. Scalgo can make better and more accurate calculations of floods because their system for predicting floods and water levels becomes more accurate with machine learning and massive data sets.

Systematic can sell new IT solutions to hospitals that helps create a more efficient patient flow. Clinical staff can get help from an IT system that handles flows better than themselves. Such solutions produce cost savings and optimise our society. This brings us to the second important gain: societal value.

Working with big data is of great benefit to society. If algorithms can predict which students are about to drop out of high schools, we can detect the dropouts before they take place. If we can optimise patient flow in hospitals, we can ensure better service in the hospitals for the benefit of the citizens. If we can predict places at risk of flooding, citizens and municipalities can get early warnings. And if we can optimise the data reported to, companies and society may save both time and money.

Research funding is brought into play

The third important benefit is that we get a higher return on our investment in research. The innovation system is one of the means that can ensure the closest collaboration between industry and the best scientists. It ensures that the researchers who must educate the population are ready for this task. 50% say they do not have sufficient IT skills to handle their work today.

Danish researchers work with many aspects of big data and are among world’s leading scientists. World-class machine learning research including deep learning are key areas, and the researchers seek to develop new algorithms and make them accessible. Large data sets can be complex and difficult to process, so another central issue is to visualise large amounts of data that enable domain experts to recognise patterns in data, for example for the Danish Fisheries Agency.

With large amounts of data you often run into the problem that there is not enough data storage capacity. Therefore, researchers are constantly working on improving and developing new efficient algorithms that enable practical application of the analysis methods for big data. Big data is thus more than a hot topic in the digital transformation. Big data is a high-priority theme in all sectors on which Denmark must focus our attention. All other countries agree that big data must be given high priority. As an example, MIT invests 1 billion dollars in artificial intelligence. Denmark’s strength lies in out ability to work closely together in public-private partnerships. We know how to do it. We know that investments need to be made, because it does not happen automatically. However, now we also know that it pays off.

By: Mikkel Harbo, Director, Business Development & Product Management, Systematic Ole Lehrmann Madsen, CEO, Alexandra Instituttet Stephen Alstrup, Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen

The article was also published in Børsen and Altinget